The View is heading to the Magical Kingdom for the November sweep, in hopes of widening its lead over CBS’ The Talk. Mickey Mouse himself made the announcement this morning on The View which is a program of Disney-owned ABC. It’s the first time The View has had to go to Disneyland – the place ABC shows go to goose their ratings. The daytime talker will broadcast live from Disneyland to coincide with Mickey Mouse’s 85th birthday on November 18. ABC’s late night star Jimmy Kimmel, who’s been getting lots of attention these days as he ratchets up to take on new Tonight show competition this season, with fake YouTube Failed-Twerk videos, verbal brawls/hug-it-outs with Kanye West, etc , will be the lead guest of The Ladies of The View for that Disneyland week, appearing on Mickey’s birthday.
Hong Kong Disneyland’s ticket counter hasn’t exactly been the happiest place on Earth since the park opened in 2005. But Disney is reaching into its $4B bag of Marvel tricks in an effort to juice attendance: An Iron Man-themed thrill ride, shopping area and photo pavilion will open at HK Dis –which turned it meager first profit this year — in late 2016, The New York Times reports. Inspired by the $121M success of Iron Man 3 in China this year, it will be Disney’s first ride based on a Marvel property since it acquired the company in 2009. “It’s important for us to have a story for our Hong Kong guests, a little bit of bragging rights that they have something that nobody else has,” said Bill Ernest, the president of Disney’s theme parks in Asia, told the Times. The attraction will arrive more than a year after the planned opening of Disney’s multibillion-dollar park in Shanghai, its first on the Chinese mainland, and the company is counting on both parks thriving to achieve its corporate goals in the country.
Distribution prospects looked dire for Randy Moore’s Sundance sensation Escape From Tomorrow, the provocative film shot guerrilla style at Disneyland and Disney World depicting one man’s descent into madness in the happiest place on Earth. But Producers Distribution Agency (PDA) announced today they’ll release the film this fall in theaters and on VOD in partnership with Abramorama and FilmBuff. The film follows a middle-aged American husband and father of two who loses his job, but keeps up appearances as he takes his brood on vacation. There he becomes obsessed with a pair of French teenage girls as paranoid visions and bizarre encounters mark the unraveling of his idyllic family outing. Disney had no part in the film and did not give Moore or his crew consent to film in its parks. Yet iconic Disney amusements like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, a Main Street parade and Epcot Center figure into the narrative, sparking media debate over whether or not the film would ever see the light of day.
2ND UPDATE, 1:08 PM: A 22-year-old Disneyland employee was arrested on suspicion of dropping a dry-ice bomb into a trash can at Mickey’s Toontown Tuesday night, prompting a brief evacuation of the area, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. Christian Barnes, an outdoor vendor at the park, is being held on $1 million bail. Barnes is cooperating with investigators and indicated that the blast was an isolated incident “with unanticipated impacts”, Dunn said. No one was hurt but the blast prompted the evacuation of Toontown for about three hours while authorities investigated. The rest of the park remained open.
UPDATE, 9 PM TUESDAY: Mickey’s Toontown has reopened to park visitors after the Orange County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad determined it was dry ice that exploded in a trash can. No one was hurt. The sheriff’s department is investigating.
PREVIOUS: 6:45 PM TUESDAY: A small explosion was reported in or near a trash can at Disneyland‘s Toontown tonight, prompting an evacuation of the immediate area, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn. The incident was reported at about 5:30. Dunn says an initial investigation determined the small blast may have been caused by dry ice and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad was en route to confirm. Dunn says only Mickey’s Toontown was evacuated and the rest of the park remained open. No injuries were reported.
Disneyland reps insist the closures of Space Mountain, Soarin’ Over California, and The Matterhorn are unrelated to the safety of park guests. But the shutdowns coming in the wake of a CAL/OSHA safety citation could spook some patrons of the Happiest Place On Earth, where last November a contractor employee was seriously injured in a fall while performing maintenance on Space Mountain. CAL/OSHA issued its inspection citation of the incident on Friday, including penalties totaling $234K for violations ranging from out of date fire extinguishers to the lack of sufficient support lines and unsafe conditions involved in November’s accident. Saturday the attractions were voluntarily closed for review of internal safety protocols for employees and contractors, Disneyland Media Relations Director Suzi Brown told Deadline. The Matterhorn reopened Sunday but the other two rides remain closed.
UPDATE, 10:50 AM: : All is clear at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA now following a morning security scare. Normal operations will resume.
Previous, 9:42 AM: The Disneyland resort in California is on temporary lockdown after a suspicious object was found by park officials. Guests already in the park are being kept inside while ticket sales have halted, keeping new arrivals out. KABC reports the object was found in the trees near the park’s entrance at about 7 a.m. during the morning walk-through.
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea suspended operations due to the effect of the Tohoku Region Pacific Coast Earthquake on 3/11. Theme park operations will continue to be suspended tomorrow and thereafter. We will target 3/21 for a decision and notification on when to expect operations to resume.
This earthquake did not cause major damage to the facilities and building in the themeparks, and we have already proceeded with safety verifications. We will make a decision on the timing of restarting operations carefully, taking into account the safety of the parks, and the recovery of transportation systems as well as neighboring infrastructure.
It’s a nice problem to have if you’re the Walt Disney Co — but not if you’re trying to visit the Anaheim theme parks. I’m told that both yesterday and today Disneyland began turning away would-be visitors within hours of opening and then redirected them to California Adventure until that park reached capacity, too. Sounds like The Happiest Place On Earth could be the grumpiest judging by this alert which the Disneyland Twitter site has been sending out regularly:
Disneyland Resort extremely popular today. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure access temporarily limited.
Walt Disney Co said today it’s going to submit a joint application report with the Shanghai government to China’s central government to build a new theme park. The company was responding to a Wall Street Journal report saying the joint venture is for a $3.59 billion Shanghai Disneyland to open in 2014 with Disney taking a 43% stake while a holding company owned by the local government keeping 57%.
I’ve always been fascinated by rumors among Disney fans about this weird club hidden away somewhere in Walt’s theme parks where celebrities and moguls like Shaq, Kobe, John Lassiter, Michael Eisner and Bob Iger hobnob. It all sounded like an urban myth. Now a new website uncovers the truth about Club 33, the ultra-exclusive secret place that serves alcohol, costs big bucks to join, and offers special privileges to its cardholders. There are two Club 33′s in existence to date: the original in Disneyland Anaheim and the second in Tokyo. In California, the elegant club and its 5-star restaurant is located discreetly above the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square. Providing photographs, menus, and all sorts of trivia, the website says that, years ago, Walt Disney felt that a special place was needed where he could entertain visiting dignitaries and others in a serene atmosphere with superb cuisine and distinctive decor. After years of planning, Club 33 became a reality in May 1967. (But he never saw it finished because of his death five months earlier.) Club 33, so named after its address on 33 Rue Royale Street, is comprised of two dining rooms, a French lift and several adjoining areas. All have a wide array of antiques and original works of art. Interestingly, the website says that members have been seen there dining in shorts, Mickey Mouse shirts, and sandals, as well as three-piece suits, sport coats, and cocktail dresses. Weird gets weirder.
Walt Disney’s only biological child died today at her home in Napa, CA, of complications from a fall in September. Diane Disney Miller was 79. She was a driving force behind the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A. Her husband of nearly 60 years, Ron W. Miller, is a former CEO of Walt Disney Productions. Here’s a statement on her passing from Disney president and CEO Bob Iger: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Diane Disney Miller and our thoughts are with her family during his difficult time. As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Company and in the hearts of fans everywhere. She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father’s legacy, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”
The basic numbers look fine but investors may find reasons to be concerned by Disney‘s unusually complicated report for a quarter that included a writedown for The Lone Ranger and an accounting adjustment that reduced ESPN revenues. The company reported net income of $1.54B, +11.0% vs the period last year, on revenue of $11.57B, +7.3%. The top line beat the Street’s forecast for $11.4B. Earnings at 77 cents a share were a penny ahead of expectations. The company’s cable networks reported a 1% increase in revenues to $3.57B with operating income -7% to $1.28B. But that includes a $172M reduction in deferred ESPN affiliate fee revenues. Take that out, and operating income would have been up $77M, the company says. At ABC broadcasting revenues were +2% to $1.37B with operating income -18% to $158M. The problems included higher costs for primetime programming as the company replaced news and reality fare with scripted shows. In addition it had tough comparisons with last year when ABC syndicated Castle and Wipeout and broadcast the Emmy Awards. Disney’s theme parks had cheerier news with revenues +8% to $$3.72B and operating income +15% to $571M. Consumer spending was up at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, but costs were up with the introduction of the MyMagic+ technology which helps guests avoid long lines. At the studio, revenues were +7% to $1.51B with operating income +35% to $108M helped by Monsters University — …
Shanghai’s financial district may soon be better known as the city’s entertainment hub. Robert De Niro and his partners are working on a massive cultural development there while Bruno Wu’s Pinewood Chinawood studio base is also due to be housed in the waterfront Bund area. Today, The Walt Disney Company China said it will open “the world’s largest Disney Store” in Lujiazui, part of the financial district on the east side of Huangpu River in the Pudong area. The store itself will be a 10,800-square-foot space housed on a 53,000 square-foot site that will also host family entertainment events. Disney is building its first mainland China theme park, Shanghai Disneyland, as the the centerpiece of its Shanghai Disney Resort which is targeted to open in Pudong at the end of 2015. Disney said today that the store, which is to open in early 2015, will be “an important site where fans can track the progress of Shanghai Disney Resort.”
Controversy put Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow on the radar at Sundance, where critics predicted that the fictional drama filmed without permission at Disney World would have to get past a courtroom before it reached theaters. As Escape nears its October multi-platform release, it has been deafening silence from Disney; not even Jiminy Cricket is chirping. That is the worst thing that could happen to a film where the venue is the only recognizable thing in a feature made on the cheap with no stars. Escape earned early notoriety for its subversive shoot after the filmmakers got The New York Times to flog a brewing David Vs. Goliath battle at Sundance. Turns out that newspaper was simply slinging hype and reflecting wishful thinking from the film’s backers. Disney doesn’t seem to care and the film is left to fly or die by its merits. At this weekend’s genre-heavy Fantastic Fest, where movie geeks gobble up subversive films, the pic screened with a whimper.
Cinetic sales rep John Sloss, whose Producers Distribution Agency is releasing the picture after it went unbought at Sundance, tells me some interested buyers were wary of crossing Disney when the film first screened. Sloss said he had offers, but Deadline has heard they were smallish and that Disney’s ire wasn’t the big factor. Getting a rise out of a corporation can be the best thing that can happen to a small film; earlier this year, the documentary Blackfish got on the map after its subject, Sea World, publicly griped about the characterization of multiple deaths involving its killer whales. Disney hasn’t made a peep, robbing Escape From Tomorrow of a lot of free publicity.
Disney shares just shot up close to 3% after CFO Jay Rasulo announced the plan at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. “We intend to significantly increase our buyback next year probably in the $6B-to-$8B range,” he says. The company can do that without jeopardizing its single A bond rating, Rasulo adds, although it might have to borrow some cash toward the end of its share repurchase. The company can spend because, following big investments in its theme parks and programming, “we’ll see an increase in cash flow.” The announcement follows a four-month period when Disney shares have been in a holding pattern. The price hit an all-time high of $67.89 in mid-May, and have slipped nearly 6% since then. ”Investors have been concerned about ESPN’s weak ratings (down 32% in Q2) in light of a period of stasis in both affiliate fees and sports rights,” Macquarie analyst Tim Nollen noted in a report yesterday. Rasulo says that ESPN and other properties are still strong, and can grow. Following the announced plan to write down as much as $190M for The Lone Ranger, Disney has “learned that there needs to be a cap on tent pole, non-franchise (spending) that doesn’t quite put as much as risk,” he says. The studio has “found our stride in a slate that looks like two Marvel films a year, Star Wars, one Disney animation, one or two …
Randy Moore’s buzzy Sundance thriller was shot in secret in Disney parks with a distinctly non-Disneyfied tale of dread and paranoia in the happiest place on Earth. The distribution trifecta of Producers Distribution Agency (PDA), Abramorama, and FilmBuff will release Escape From Tomorrow in theaters on October 11 as well as on VOD and digital platforms, although nobody’s yet talking about how the pic’s skirting Disney’s legal muscle. Check out the first trailer:
The man who put the Rolling Stones back on the road and Spider-Man on Broadway is now going to bring Marvel’s costumed characters to life in a town near you. In a partnership between Marvel and live entertainment producer Hero Ventures, former Live Nation chairman and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark producer Michael Cohl will produce the Marvel Experience. Described as a “first-person superhero adventure” and set to debut next year, the $30 million themed production will feature dozens of Marvel characters combined with multimedia technology, original 3D animated movies and a 4D motion ride, all in a traveling dome complex the size of two football fields. The plan is to bring the Marvel Experience to two dozen cities around the US in 2014 with weeklong stays in each. “Hero Ventures is developing a themed entertainment concept that we expect will be a transformative, traveling destination that will deliver to fans and families an exciting, groundbreaking and unique experience,” said Sean Haran, Marvel’s VP Business Development, in a statement Wednesday. Spider-Man co-producer and veteran stage and touring Jeremiah Harris also will produce the Experience along and Hero Ventures’ Jason Rosen a former Sony Pictures exec. Hero Ventures was founded in June 2012 by former Gersh player agent Doug Schaer and sports lawyer Rick Licht.
D23: Alan Horn Jeered For Keeping Mum On ‘Star Wars’, ‘Maleficent’s Angelina Jolie Makes Surprise Appearance, Marvel Teases ‘Avengers 2′
Anthony D’Alessandro contributes to Deadline’s D23 coverage.
Disney’s live action panel today at D23 started off with Alan Horn being heckled by disappointed Star Wars fans and pretty much turned into a clipfest afterwards. Only a surprise appearance by Maleficent star Angelina Jolie at the Anaheim event raised the temperature anywhere near Friday’s news filled Animation panel. The newest jewel in Disney’s crown, Star Wars was dealt with by the studio boss with a list of old announcements of approximate release dates, JJ Abrams being on board and spinoff films. “I really wish I could tell you more. It will come soon,” Horn told the crowd as a big “awww” and boos emanated from around the convention center from fans expecting a bone to be thrown their way today.
That was in sharp contrast to Jolie’s sudden walk-on later in the two-hour panel. Then it was cheers not jeers. “Since I was a little girl, I was drawn to her. But I was also terrified by her, but she had this elegance and grace,” said Jolie about playing in the upcoming backstory to the Sleeping Beauty character. “When I heard Disney was making the film, my brother encouraged me to take the role.” Jolie’s appearance in front of the audience of 7,500, came after Walt Disney live action production head Sean Bailey spoke about casting her for Maleficent. “You can pencil out a list of all the amazing actresses in the world and for us this list only had one name for the role, Angelina Jolie,” exclaimed Bailey over as sketches from the film played on the big screen. After Jolie’s brief turn on stage, Bailey showed the audience exclusive footage from Maleficent. In the clip, Jolie’s British-accented wicked Queen appeared amidst CGI fairies and green steam rising to curse the baby Sleeping Beauty. “Without a doubt, Maleficent will be a powerful movie experience when it comes to theaters next summer,” Bailey told the crowd. Maleficent is set to be release on July 2, 2014.
Twenty-seven writers including John Gatins, Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell were named finalists in nine categories for the 39th annual Humanitas Prize. The writers will compete for $95,000 in prize money to be handed out at the annual luncheon September 20 at the Montage Beverly Hills. The Humanitas Prize was created to honor TV and film writers for telling stories, which “truly and deeply explore the human experience in a way that both entertains and enlightens,” the org says. Of the finalists, executive director Cathleen Young said, “These gifted storytellers made us laugh and cry and ultimately, brought us closer together as a family by deeply exploring what it means to be human!” Click over for the full list of nominees: